Farm laborers at work picking strawberries in a field in Watsonville, CA. Up to 80% of strawberries consumed in the United States are produced in California, due to ideal climate conditions. Many growers use subcontractors who use competing bids for the jobs, the subcontractors then employ the pickers. The pickers have a punch card and are paid per tray of normally 12 boxes of strawberries. Their pay is based on the speed of picking the berries, and filling boxes up. This means if they work fast they can make minimum wage; this is why you will often see pickers running in the fields. Strawberry picking is incredibly strenuous work done in warm weather , bent over all day long. Sexual harassment is a common complaint amongst the women working in the field and it is why they wear shirts to cover themselves.
Another issue with strawberries is they are one of the “Dirty Dozen,” which are the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue as documented by the US Department of Agriculture, which leaves laborers more vulnerable to exposure.